Services in elder home care settings vary from center to center, but may include therapeutic activities such as art, singing, age-appropriate games, health monitoring, social work, meals, dietary counseling, physical therapy, occupational and speech therapy. February is the International Month of Recreational Therapy, and while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to result in more indoor time and greater isolation, the benefits of recreational activities can still be enjoyed from the comfort and safety of your home. Below are eight examples of interesting recreational therapy activities that offer numerous benefits to improve the health and well-being of older adults. For older people who are at a time in their lives when they feel especially lonely or have trouble establishing emotional bonds with other people, animal therapy can be of great help.
There's a reason why animals, especially dogs and cats, are found in so many homes around the world and throughout history. Developing a relationship with a pet is a universally rewarding experience. Simply spending time with animals can help reduce depression and stress. Video games are an easy and engaging way to relax. In addition to being a fun recreational activity, they provide opportunities for greater social interaction and help improve concentration.
For older adults, gaming systems that work with an interactive remote control, such as the Nintendo Wii, are a good way to encourage movement. With thousands of games available on different systems, it might be worth considering it a therapeutic activity for older adults who want to have more fun at home.
Crossword puzzles, puzzles, logic puzzles, and other mind-challenging activities are great recreational activities for older adults. Doing puzzles regularly can help reduce the cognitive decline that occurs in some people as they age, as it promotes greater attention, memory, visual and spatial processing, and other skills. Listening to music is perhaps one of the best and easiest ways to reduce stress. For older adults, music serves as a reminder of past experiences and helps to recall memory.
There are specific types of formal music therapy, but organizing more informal virtual meetings to enjoy or talk about music during COVID-19 is another way to incorporate this hobby as a recreational activity. February is a time to raise awareness about recreational activities that are more than just hobbies: they are one of the best forms of therapy for older adults and others with disabling illnesses. Recreational therapy promotes physical movement and helps develop social and cognitive skills, while creating more meaningful experiences for the participant. An additional advantage is the fact that, despite limited opportunities for social participation during the COVID-19 pandemic, many activities can be modified to facilitate virtual participation. This month is an excellent time to help an older loved one become more involved in an activity they are passionate about. In addition, adult day programs can provide temporary care for caregivers, a vital resource that gives them the opportunity to take a break from caring for their loved ones.
The practical and holistic approach to recreational therapy is often used in skilled nursing facilities and in home or community care facilities.